What is Exploitation?

What is Exploitation?

Modern Slavery is a term that is used to describe a range of experiences that are abusive and exploitative. All forms of modern slavery are a violation of human rights and are considered a serious crime under international and Australian law. It affects millions of people worldwide and can occur in any work or industry.

Many people are unaware that they have had this kind of experience.

What is Modern Slavery?

The term ‘slavery’ carries a lot of shame and stigma, so it can be hard for people to process that they have had that kind of experience. Sometimes we know that our experiences have had a huge impact, but we don’t know what name to give them.

Understanding the definitions and legislation can be helpful in processing what happened to us.

Different definitions are used in Australia and overseas for human trafficking and modern slavery. Some are based on local legislation, others are based on international human rights definitions.

This can make it very confusing to understand who or how someone "qualifies" as having an experience of human trafficking or modern slavery.

As survivors, it is often a challenge to feel valid when we have had these kinds of experiences. Understanding what the words mean can give us the language to frame the pain that we experience.

There are many different types of experiences that fall under the umbrella of ‘modern slavery’. In simple terms, offenses related to trafficking and modern slavery involve three things:

  • Someone is exploiting you for personal or commercial gain
  • Someone is deceiving, coercing, or forcing you to work for them
  • You believe you are trapped in the situation or feel you have no other choices or options because someone is threatening you or the people you love
A person sits in a pink arm chair and a pot plant next to them. They are looking down, worried. A speech bubble says: "The first time someone told me was in a trafficking situation, I said, “No, I’m not!”, because I didn’t know that trafficking can happen in different ways...I never heard the words 'modern slavery' and didn’t know what that was. I definitely didn’t know it was happening to me…"

International definitions

The international definitions are slightly different than Australian definitions but are very useful in understanding what aligns with international law.

Anti-Slavery International (2022) states that modern slavery is:

The process of trapping people through the use of violence, deception, or coercion and exploiting them for financial or personal gain.
This includes but is not limited to human trafficking, forced labour, and debt bondage.
A globe with clouds around it. A quote from Anti-Slavery International reads next to it: "Modern Slavery is when an individual is exploited by others, for person or commercial gain. Whether tricked, coerced, or forced, they lose their freedom."

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines severe trafficking in persons as:

Sex trafficking is when a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age OR
The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labour or services through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery
A person need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within this definition.

Find out more about exploitation, human trafficking, and modern slavery:

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